Essex v Lancashire: Simon Harmer relishing pressure of expectation
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
With the sun due to shine relentlessly on the Essex County Ground for the next four days, Simon Harmer will relish the buzz of expectation that will herald his every stride to the crease against Lancashire, writes Martin Smith.
Things tended to happen whenever the ball was in the South African off-spinner’s hand last season as he claimed 72 Specsavers County Championship wickets in Essex’s title triumph.
Memorably, he took 14-wicket hauls in successive outings at Chelmsford in June, posting career-best figures of nine for 95 against Middlesex and 14 for 128 in the match against Warwickshire to lift home supporters out of their seats.
“If you look traditionally at the game in England, the leading wicket-takers have always been seamers,” he said.
“So for the crowd to have expectations of a spinner to take wickets is a compliment to my game and what I achieved last season.
You may also want to watch:
“I won’t feel any extra pressure, but it will be nice to know the crowd has a belief that when I come on to bowl there’s a chance of wickets.”
In the 54 weeks since he made his Essex debut in the corresponding fixture against Lancashire, Harmer has taken 119 first-class wickets in 22 games.
- 1 Some areas record twice monthly rainfall in a day - and more heavy rain to come
- 2 Ipswich Town closing in on deal to sign Rangers defender Edmundson
- 3 Town in talks to sign Barnsley forward Chaplin
- 4 Ipswich Town appoint new strength and conditioning coach
- 5 'Amazing' - Joy as port welcomes maiden call of luxury cruise ship
- 6 'He's a proper footballer... hopefully he can stay around us' - praise for Town teenager Humphreys
- 7 Road closed after lorry crashes into tree as one person is trapped inside
- 8 Kenyan school chums meet by 'unbelievable chance' at Suffolk village fete
- 9 Teenage girl allegedly raped on village recreation ground, court hears
- 10 Is this the most perfect pizza in Suffolk?
Back home, Essex’s kolpak signing finished top wicket-taker in the red-ball Sunfoil Series with 47, 14 more than anyone else and having played two fewer games.
“It’s been a really, really good year,” he concedes, “and I’m very happy where my four-day cricket is at. But, for me, I’m not worried about the stats; I’d rather have trophies in the cabinet.”
Having established himself as one of the leading spinners in the world, 29-year-old Harmer has shifted this summer’s focus to upgrading his all-round white-ball game. “I want to start breaking into some of the bespoke leagues in the off-season,” he says, his eyes primarily on the IPL and Big Bash.
“I feel confident enough now to start venturing into a new challenge and trying different things. Not that I’m going to forget about my four-day cricket.
“I feel going back to South Africa and performing the way I did, I feel a lot more confident going into this season. If I was to do as well as I did last season it would be incredible.”